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Sweet Reunion
by Barbara Bald

You could buy penny candy in a soda shop when I was a kid.
Bubble gum cigarettes poised between your forefinger and thumb,
pinky held high in the air, you could puff with the best of them.
Wax lips in brilliant red could turn you into a clown,
movie star or harlot (if you knew what that was).

There were licorice-filled, pink and white Good and Plenty,
Necco wafers that looked like pastel-colored poker chips,
Ju-Ju Bees that stuck to your braces, and yes,
wax bottles you could suck sticky colored syrup out of,
then chew wad-like in your mouth.

A thumb could dispense Pez pieces, small rectangular delicacies
from plastic mouths of bears, pirates, King Kong and Howdy Doody.
We’d offer these simulated tongues to friends like Bobby Dunn
who limped when he struck out at a game, gave them
to teachers like Mr. Martin who tutored us through tough math quizzes,
extended them even to grandma when her white hair
came out a little too blue.

Fifty years later in a world bent on fluoride toothpaste,
whitening strips, mouth-freshening mints and dental floss,
thoughts of these candies still join those who, some long gone,
shared in the sugary gift. Linking memory to memory
and faces to places, they continue to stir sweetness
that resists the grave.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was actually in a plane flying over square and rectangular plots of farmland that reminded me of Pez dispensers we used as kids. It was the inspiration for this poem.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barbara Bald is a retired teacher, educational consultant and free-lance writer. Her poems have been published in a variety of anthologies: The Other Side of Sorrow, The 2008 and 2010 Poets’ Guide to New Hampshire, For Loving Precious Beast, Piscataqua Poems, The Widow’s Handbook, Sun and Sand, In Gilded Frame and other anthologies published by Kind of Hurricane Press. They have appeared in The Northern New England Review, Avocet, Off the Coast and in multiple issues of The Poetry Society of New Hampshire’s publication: The Poets’ Touchstone. Her work has been recognized in both national and local contests including the Rochester Poet Laureate Contest, Lisbon’s Fall Festival of Art Contest, Conway Library’s Annual Contest, Goodwin Library’s Annual Contest, and The Poetry Society of New Hampshire’s National and Member Contests. Her recent full-length book is called Drive-Through Window and her new chapbook is entitled Running on Empty. Barb lives in Alton, New Hampshire, with her cat Catcher and two Siamese Fighting fish. Visit her at barbarabald.com.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me and Catcher, the sweetest thing in my life.